Lightning strike against brave Warriors
Leinster Lightning preserved their now six-year unbeaten record in the inter-provincial championship but it needed two internationals to thwart a resurgent North West Warriors.
A seventh wicket stand of 76 between Kevin O'Brien and George Dockrell proved the match-saving one after the Warriors had reduced Leinster Lightning to 137 for six, needing 223 to avoid the innings defeat.
A 70-minute rain delay in the morning reduced the final day's play at Sydney Parade by 10 overs, but ultimately it did not cost Warriors victory as Lightning had wiped off the deficit when the teams finished three overs before the scheduled close.
But the fact that Lightning were on the receiving end for the vast majority of the match augurs well for a much more competitive tournament.
Victories without even having to bat a second time have been commonplace in Lightning matches, but with Boyd Rankin firing in at one end, and Craig Young, who can expect to be named today in the Ireland 13 for next week's historic Test along with his skipper Andy McBrine, this is a Warriors side who can challenge for supremacy.
It needed a superb delivery from Rankin to finally claim the wicket of in-form Andrew Balbirnie after 126 runs and 256 undefeated deliveries spread over two innings.
Indeed, when the Lightning first innings closed on the stroke of lunch with Balbirnie 114 not out, the international didn't bother taking off his pads, but opened the second innings with Jack Tector.
This time Balbirnie was beaten by the last ball of Rankin's fourth over, a delivery so quick and accurate that the off stump cartwheeled back some 20 yards.
And in a case of anything Rankin can do, Young did the same with a superb yorker to dismiss Tector, albeit 20 overs later and only after the former Ireland Under-19 captain had passed 50 for the second time in the match. Frustratingly, he couldn't go on.
The biggest disappointment, just eight days out from the Test, was that Ed Joyce 'failed' for the second time in the match, again out to a pull shot after only doubling his first innings score of six. With Ireland skipper William Porterfield dismissed for two in the Warriors' only innings, Ireland's openers against Pakistan in Malahide faced only 61 balls.
David Scanlon, the unsung bowler in this Warriors attack, kept the pressure on with the help of two low catches at second slip by Porterfield, while it was a short ball from Rankin that accounted for Sean Terry, caught at short leg in the first over after tea.
When Simi Singh followed four overs later, Warriors scented victory, but it was never likely that Kevin O'Brien and skipper Dockrell would miss out twice in a match and, by the time Stuart Thompson made the breakthrough, Lightning were just 10 runs in arrears and with only another 11 overs to survive.
Projected Test 13: W Porterfield, E Joyce, A Balbirnie, N O'Brien, P Stirling, K O'Brien, G Wilson, A McBrine, B McCarthy, T Murtagh, B Rankin, G Dockrell, C Young
North West Warriors 1st Innings 509 (N O'Brien 165, S Thompson 148, A Gillespie 57, D Rankin 52 not out; G Dockrell 3-120)
LEINSTER LIGHTNING 1st INNINGS
(overnight 256-8, J Tector 53)
A Balbirnie not out 114
T Kane c D Rankin b Young 15
P Chase b B Rankin 0
Extras (16b 11lb 24nb 2w) 53
Total (86 overs) 286
Fall: 1-6 2-110 3-133 4-185 5-204 6-217 7-239 8-251 9-284
Bowling: C Young 17-4-49-3, B Rankin 19-3-72-2, D Scanlon 13-0-47-2, S Thompson 16-3-67-1, A McBrine 16-10-15-1, R Allen 5-0-9-1
LEINSTER LIGHTNING 2nd INNINGS
A Balbirnie b Rankin 12
J Tector b Young 53
E Joyce c D Rankin b McBrine 12
J Anderson c Porterfield b Scanlon 3
S Terry c Gillespie b B Rankin 11
K O'Brien not out 52
S Singh c Porterfield b Scanlon 7
G Dockrell c N O'Brien b Thompson 31
L Tucker not out 5
Extras (10b 7lb 18nb 6w) 41
Total (7 wkts, 76 overs) 227
Fall: 1-31 2-75 3-93 4-114 5-123 6-137 7-213
Bowling: C Young 15-3-44-1, B Rankin 13-0-42-2, D Scanlon 14-2-39-2, S Thompson 10-1-45-1, A McBrine 19-10-32-1, R Allen 5-3-8-0